Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini snubbed a joint meeting of Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) and the portfolio committee on social development late on Tuesday evening, where she was due to provide feedback on the ongoing social grants crisis. Instead, Dlamini opted to attend an "active ageing" campaign in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Daily Maverick, the meeting followed a damning report by a panel of experts appointed by the Constitutional Court which raised concerns about a lack of progress by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in ensuring that the distribution of social grants is handed over to a new service provider.
Social grants are due to be provided by a new provider as of 2018, after the Constitutional Court found that the contract with the current provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was invalid.
The current contract reportedly expires in five months.
The panel of experts reportedly said that "the measures taken so far by Sassa, together with the proposed timelines, are unlikely to enable a seamless transition to a new system of payment of social assistance by 1 April 2018."
Yet, in spite of this, Dlamini did not attend the meeting, sending a letter excusing herself even though she was the one who had decided the date of the meeting, according to Eyewitness News (EWN). This was reportedly revealed by Scopa chairman, Themba Godi.
EWN reported that MPs were furious with Dlamini. ANC MP Nthabiseng Khunou reportedly said, "It's a political problem and we need to be tackling them politically. I think it's out of order and really irresponsible."